Democrats put pressure on Trump. TRANSCRIPT: 03/05/2019, Hardball w. Chris Matthews.

Guests: Katie Hill, Christina Bellantoni, Harry Litman, Bob Shrum, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Rob Reiner

Show: HARDBALL Date: March 5, 2019 Guest: Katie Hill, Christina Bellantoni, Harry Litman, Bob Shrum, Omarosa Manigault Newman, Rob Reiner

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: But tomorrow Cohen will go back. He is testifying in a close setting to House intel committee. I will tell you for our special coverage, Congresswoman Val Demmmings (ph) who will be questioned Cohen. She joins me tomorrow along with Sam Nunberg and the Rev. Al on THE BEAT.

That does it for me. "HARDBALL" is up next.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC HOST: Stonewall. Let`s play HARDBALL.

Good evening. I`m Chris Matthews in Los Angeles.

Donald Trump`s son says his father`s people should stonewall demands for evidence. In other words, give up nothing to the investigators. He is responding to the House Judiciary Committee`s demand for documents from over 80 Trump people and organizations. There they are on the list. That list, which was issued just yesterday includes the President`s company as well as members of his family, including Jared Kushner, Donald Trump Junior, and Eric Trump himself.

In a radio interview with FOX News, the President`s second son, Eric, says he intends to fight the Judiciary Committee over the materials he has been asked to provide. Eric Trump says he`s backing the advice of former prosecutor and Trump ally, Joe DiGenova, who is urging the targets, all of them, to stonewall Congress and plead the Fifth Amendment, if necessary. Here`s Eric Trump in that radio interview today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC TRUMP, PRESIDENT TRUMPS SON: Yes, we are going to fight the hell out of it. And, you know, we will fight where we need and we will cooperate where we need and -- but the desperation shows.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Joe DiGenova, a U.S. attorney, you know him well, former U.S. attorney for D.C., saw the -- saw all of the demands, the 80 plus requests for documents that has Eric Trump`s name on it, too, and says, this is his advice. Cut her of it.

E. TRUMP: This is a later dale (ph). He wants people to produce documents. Everyone should refuse and when they are subpoenaed, they should all take the fifth because this is a perjury trap. This is not a legitimate investigation, it is a fishing expedition. They are trying to get people up there to make them look bad so that they can try and make the President look bad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will you take his advice? I mean, is that something you can say to him?

E. TRUMP: I think he`s spot-on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: I think he is spot on. That recommendation to rebuff the committee`s demands by any means is eerily similar to the fateful advice that former President Richard Nixon once relayed to aides embroiled in the Watergate investigation.

Listen carefully right now to what Nixon told his attorney general, John Mitchell, back in 1973.

(INAUDIBLE VIDEO)

MATTHEWS: I want you to stonewall it. The President`s son now appears agrees that everybody should plead the fifth, yet the President himself has previously made clear that he thinks -- what he thinks of people who ever take the fifth.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are five people taking the Fifth Amendment. Like you see on the mob, right? You see the mob takes the fifth. If you`re innocent, why you taking the Fifth Amendment?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, this comes as the House Judiciary Committee under Chairman Jerry Nadler appears intent on fulfilling its oversight responsibilities. As "The New York Times" notes, that investigation could seek to gather -- together, tied together, the scheme to pay off Miss Daniels, the firing of James B. Comey as FBI director, Mr. Trump`s attempts to remove the special counsel, Robert Mueller. The President`s apparent dangling of pardons and threatening of witnesses to the investigation and other events. To no one`s surprise, the President today slammed the House Judiciary Committee, calling their investigation nonsense.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D. TRUMP: The witch hunt continues. The fact is that, I guess we got 81 letters. There was no collusion. That was a hoax. There was no anything. And they want to do that instead of getting legislation passed, 81 people or organizations got letters. It`s a disgrace. It`s a disgrace to our country. It`s too bad, because I would rather see them do legislation, we negotiate out legislation, where so many things, actually, things that we agree on like infrastructure. But they want to focus on nonsense.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: He didn`t do infrastructure when he had a chance. He gave the wealthy a $1.5 trillion tax cut. Don`t ever forget that. We all wanted him to do infrastructure, right, left, and center. He didn`t do it. He chose to give the money to the wealthy.

Anyway, meanwhile, in a review of things to come, the White House is refusing to comply with a request for evidence by the House oversight committee. Trump has also refused to turn over any information about Jared Kushner`s security clearance. Altogether, these simmering confrontations could set the stage for a number of subpoena fights, don`t you think?

I`m joined now by Harry Litman, former federal prosecutor and Yamiche Alcindor, White House correspondent for PBS News Hour. Thank you both on the legal front here.

I`m fascinated by this thing in "The New York Times" today. How the House investigators led by -- led by --

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Nadler.

MATTHEWS: Nadler, yes, Jerry Nadler. Of course, I have known him a million years, Jerry Nadler, that thy are going to go into the question of tying together payoffs to the women, trying to get Flynn off the hook with Comey. Firing Comey, going after Mueller. I mean, all -- how would they fit together? It sounds like a RICO charge. It is a kind of rackets charge.

LITMAN: Well, look. And you know, legally, people have been talking about that and continuing to go on for a long time. But he is going to tie it together thematically. I mean, you see the umbrella term is abuse of power, obstruction of justice, and in fact, the charge he is making, and there`s a lot of reason to think is there is, you know, continuity between Trump, the candidate, Trump the nominee, Trump the President.

He has run his businesses the same way, crooked and corner cutting. And he is going to try to show a general pattern. But each of these things, when you hear the charge about this fishing expedition, asked which fish shouldn`t be fished for, each of the incidents really does sound like the sorts of things you have got to worry about if you are in oversight mode.

MATTHEWS: Can you put together a perjury charge based upon all that stuff, as disparate as paying off women you had relations with to threatening, threatening -- how many times did he threaten sessions?

LITMAN: Yes.

MATTHEWS: He just intimidated the guy to do something. Yelling at him because he didn`t recuse himself. It seems to me like obstruction of justice to me.

LITMAN: Yes, so obstruction, I think there`s a number of charges you can put together, perjury. You need to swear and Trump has been able to allude it, except, there is an indication. This is one thing that was really important about the Cohen testimony. There`s an indication that his written testimony said that he never told Cohen anything or never knew anything from Stone about the timing. If that`s wrong, that`s perjury. But obstruction, there are six, seven potential obstructions. But the granddaddy of them all, the Comey firing and the cover-up of it, including speaking of Trump Jr., the actual phony story that they concoct on air force one.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, I have been away with my wife and some relatives over in New Zealand, so I missed some of this behavior. But I tell you, what is refreshingly familiar is the behavior of Eric Trump.

My God, this guy goes along with Joe DiGenova, who`s basically a wild man conservative, who does -- doesn`t want to do anything but defend Trump these days, saying, stonewall! I mean, stonewall is Nixon stuff. I mean, the idea that he`s advised all these people around his father, oh, just don`t go along with these calls for evidence. I mean, is Eric talking for the old man or is he out of the action? Is he out of the loop?

YAMICHE ALCINDOR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWS HOUR: I think it`s hard to see whether or not he is talking to his father. But what I can say is the behavior of Eric Trump mirrors the behavior of the White House. I have been talking to officials all week, and what they tell me is the White House is going to do what they legally have to do. The key word there being, they are waiting for there to be a subpoena and they are waiting for this be a fight that becomes about executive privilege versus House oversight.

Because the officials that I have been talking to tell me that the President and people in the White House have been gearing up ever since the Democrats took back control of the House.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, I have got to interrupt. This is too wild. This is too wild. So the President of the United States is writing out checks to cover up a relationship he had with a -- whatever, adult film hero or whatever the hell she was. And he`s doing this and that`s called executive -- that has to do with the nation`s business? That`s not the nation, that`s Donald Trump`s business. I mean, how can they call it executive privilege?

ALCINDOR: Well, that`s going to be the big question. Can they actually get away with this? Are they going to be -- is this going to be able to hold up in court? I can tell you that that`s what the White House is going to say. And they are going to say with we are using executive privilege, just like every other President did it.

Of course, what`s not said is not every other President had private meetings with Putin with only a translator. Not every other President had hush money payments and possibly checks written while in office to pay off an adult film star for not talking about it during the election. So there is, of course, a different context here, but the White House -- and that`s the line they are giving me, Chris. Every single day when I ask, I say, what`s going on now? And they say, well, this is all about Presidential harassment.

The key other question I want to bring up quickly, I`ve been asking and I haven`t gotten a clear answer, what`s the White House going to do to coordinate with all the people who don`t work in the White House? With people like Eric Trump, like Don Junior, and people who might be suspected and ask for documents later, like John Kelly or Ivanka Trump. That is going to be where things get really interesting --.

MATTHEWS: By the way, Stormy just appreciated the upgrade. You just called her an adult film star.

ALCINDOR: I work for PBS, so that`s what we call her.

MATTHEWS: OK, that`s your word.

Anyway, that`s the code there. Anyway, I want to bring in Democratic congresswoman, Katie Hill of California who sits on the House.

You were so impressive, congresswoman, about this whole mess -- no, it`s a fact. I mean, you are one of the stars, using a word we unfortunately just used in another context.

REP. KATIE HILL (D), CALIFORNIA: That`s OK.

MATTHEWS: But you know, I really think about this question of a son out there free lensing for his dad, saying, well, I`m going along with Joe DiGenova, a wild conservative, and we are just going any answer question. We are going to saying we`re not going to give any documents. What is your committee going to do, led by Jerry Nadler, when people start to obey the rulings of this was one conciliar son and they start saying, no, we are not giving you nothing? What are you going to do?

HILL: So I`m on overnight, which is led by Chairman Cummings, but you know, I think we are going to have - we are going to have to pursue every measure that we have to conduct our constitutional obligation, which is overseeing the executive branch. We have to do that.

MATTHEWS: So what would you do -- what would you do if a request for information from this family and its crowd didn`t come through? They refused to respond? You are in overnight, they`re on judiciary, but what`s the difference? Go ahead.

HILL: I mean, if it`s me, I`m going to subpoena. And I think that`s exactly the direction that we are going to go. To me I think to me, the biggest thing is we have to show the American people -- listen, we all know, this is just from growing up, right, throughout our lifetime, the whole phrase of pleading the fifth is when you are guilty. So, you know, I think that that`s a really telling thing for us to see, that the White House is encouraging people to do that, that you have everybody on that side of the issue saying, plead the fifth. That`s a major problem. And it causes all that much more suspicion and a need for us to go in every possible way to get this documentation, to bring people -- to bring the -- the people in the White House and the other kind of affiliated characters in front of the committee to show the American people what`s going on. And frankly, if they`re not, if they are hiding that information, then that arouses that much more suspicion and we`ve got to do whatever we can to uncover it.

MATTHEWS: You are on oversight. Explain something about the dress code on your committee. The right-wing Republicans, the tea party types show up like they`re working for CNBC in the morning. Why do they show up with the white shirts on, they don`t unbutton their collars, they don`t roll up their sleeves? They wear that sort of dress code of the NBA graduate. And they had nasty looks on their faces. They were really angry. What`s the story on their sort of sentiments? Why do they hate anybody who criticizes Trump?

HILL: You know, I think that there`s this -- there`s just this sentiment that they have to protect the President. And that anybody who is, is questioning whether the executive branch is doing what they are supposed to be doing is partisan. And that`s just not the case. I mean, I mentioned this in the committee hearing, but I come from a half Democrat, half Republican family. My district is pretty well evenly represented between Democrats and Republicans and independents.

And this isn`t about partisanship. This is about whether the person in the White House is breaking the law, whether they are coordinating with outside foreign entities and whether we as the American people are the priority and we`re being kept safe.

And so the fact that Republicans who are supposed to be this party of national security, they seem to have forgotten that. And they are also supposed to be the party that really wants to curtail the executive branch and maintain constitutional authority. Again, that`s all gone by the wayside. And I think that that shows you exactly why they`re trying to protect the President, is because they`re afraid of what he`s capable of doing to their base, and they are afraid of getting unseated. But I think they are going to end up on the wrong side of history on this, I have got to tell you.

ALCINDOR: -- on one, remember?

MATTHEWS: Go ahead, you`re talking to him. Yamiche. Look, in an interview with ABC News today, Trump`s former lawyer, Ty Cobb, expressed his disagreement with the President on the special counsel`s probe. Among other things, Cobb praised Robert Mueller and defended his investigation. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think of bob Mueller?

TY COBB, FORMER TRUMP`S ATTORNEY: I think Bob Mueller is an American hero. I have known him for 30 years as a prosecutor and a friend and I think the -- I think the world of Bob Mueller. He`s a -- he is a very deliberate guy. But he is also a class act. And a very justice-oriented person.

I was there for the White House. Rudy is there to represent the individual. But keep in mind that, you know, that you can criticize the strategy, it wouldn`t have been my strategy. You know, I don`t feel the same way about Mueller. I don`t feel the investigation is a witch hunt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Harry, is that a concern among other Republicans who were thoughtful about this? That this President is facing -- you know, from a real straight arrow, a threat from a real straight arrow, not a partisan.

LITMAN: Yes, I mean, that`s why it was so foreboding when Rosenstein first appointed him.

Look, this is not like a disagreement. Rob Mueller --, I mean, Bob Mueller is an American hero. Period. Full stopped. Everybody knows it. And people who are posing otherwise are just trying to do a political talking point that everyone knows is not legitimate.

But things are so topsy turby (ph). The stonewall tape you played from Watergate, that brought Nixon down. That was at the very end of the story. Here it`s something that`s actually boasted about, same with this notion of promiscuously taking the fifth.

As best I can tell, the whole thing is to try to keep this 41 to 46 percent on the reservation and keep the Republicans torpid and thinking, you know, we can just parry everything and ignore it. Everybody knows it`s a legitimate probe. Everybody knows Mueller`s the real deal and the rest is just politics and bogus claims.

MATTHEWS: Yamiche, you are the expert, you`re the reporter here about reporting. It seems to me that what broke Nixon wasn`t politics, it wasn`t Tip O`Neil, my old boss, it wasn`t any of that, it was the evidence. When you heard of him basically a calling the shots on the Watergate cover-up with Bob Halderman, saying that he wants the CIA to tell the FBI to get off the case because it`s a national security matter, that nailed Nixon. He quit. Is it going to take something like that to break the Republican phalanx around Trump?

ALCINDOR: I think so. Because we go back to this idea that the Republicans are going for an audience of one. They want all of their antics and all of their arguments to be seen by President Trump.

In this case, when you saw Michael Cohen in that hearing, what made him -- what made that hearing so important was not just because he was talking about President Trump and all the things that he thought he said he heard, but it`s because he brought the check that President Trump wrote while in office in August of 2017.

So I think Republicans are probably going to need really hard evidence. And Bob Mueller, as far as everyone can tell, is really going to be looking for that hard evidence. That`s why we see the President saying, wow, I didn`t know AG Bill Barr really liked Mueller as much as he did. I didn`t know they went back for a far. But it`s because Barr sees Mueller and says, he is a credible person. He`s someone who will take this job very seriously. And as a result, if Mueller does find something, you can definitely bet he is going to have evidence to back it up.

MATTHEWS: Well, the trouble is for all of these Republicans, if they look to the future, they must realize that Donald Trump is not likely to go to Mt. Rushmore. He is much more likely to go back to Trump tower. And their question should be right now, do you want to go there with him?

Thank you very much, U.S. congresswoman, Katie Hill of the House overnight committee.

Thank, Harry Litman,

And thank you, Yamiche Alcindor of PBS.

Coming up, 48 percent of registered voters -- actually, 46 percent of registered voters and 88 percent of Republican voters believe that President Trump is doing a good job. Can anything that come out of these investigations weaken the GOP support for Trump? Actor/director Rob Reiner will be here in a minute.

Plus, two big names, Michael Bloomberg and Hillary Clinton announced today they are not running for President, but the field of candidates is still growing. So who has the best chance to win against Trump?

And Trump`s troubling record on racist. Michael Cohen acceptance he`s a racist. There are very few African-Americans on his administration, of course, and one is on his way out. I will talk about that with Trump former senior adviser Omarosa Manigault Newman.

Much more ahead. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know what I like about this? Number one, I`m in love, and you`re in love. We`re all in love together. There`s so much love in this room. It`s easy to talk. You can talk your heart out. You really can.

There`s love in this room. You can talk your heart out. It`s easy.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Love means never having to say you`re sorry.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

That was President Trump basking in the glow of his most ardent supporters at CPAC this weekend, where it was clear the president`s wildly popular within his party.

Trump`s overall approval rating is at 46 percent, up a bit in our NBC/"Wall Street Journal" poll. But the poll also shows he has the approval of 88 percent of Republicans, basically nine out of 10.

Robert Costa wrote in "The Washington Post": "Acquiescence to Trump is now the defining trait of the Republican Party more than two years into his presidency."

And Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn told "The Washington Post": "We`re not going to turn our own. We`re not going to turn on our own and make the Democrats happy."

In other words, the reason they`re sticking with Trump is, they don`t want to make the Democrats, right? OK.

Joining me right now is Robert Costa, the man who wrote that, national political reporter for "The Washington Post," and film director and activist Rob Reiner.

Now, we have one absolutely straight reporter on, and we have a guy with a lot of opinions here tonight.

So, Robert, tell me about the Republican Party. Can you report on this strange allegiance to Trump that seems to pass through every traffic accident, every reckoning, every absurdity, every misbehavior personally and politically, and yet it grows even stronger? What`s going on in the Republican Party?

ROBERT COSTA, MSNBC POLITICAL ANALYST: It`s pervasive across domestic policy and even on foreign policy.

Think about Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defending the president`s comments about Otto Warmbier and the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-un. Secretary -- National Security Adviser John Bolton again defending the president on the Sunday shows.

Then you have CPAC and the conservative base, GOP base, all there with the president. I asked former Senator Jeff Flake about -- about this today, Chris. He said, it`s about fear. He said the Republicans fear the president. He has all the political capital in the party?

MATTHEWS: Why is it a guy like the late John McCain would do something maybe a lot of people who aren`t Republicans believe in, like campaign reform, turn on him with a vengeance because he did that, McCain-Feingold?

And yet when Trump breaks the rules, it doesn`t seem -- I mean, I`m talking about things like fiscal responsibility, post-World War II alliances, which were basically put together by Democrats and Republicans together, breaking all those -- all that silver, breaking all the rules, and yet they don`t hold any of it against him?

Is there any -- I don`t know if there`s any precedent. Let me ask you about that. Have you have ever seen it before?

COSTA: We have never seen it really in the conservative movement or the Republican Party over the last half-century.

Those conservative principles from Buckley, Goldwater guided the GOP for decades. But because of George W. Bush`s presidency, the Iraq War, the economic collapse, many Republican leaders tell me there was a vacuum, an opening for populism and nationalism to take its grip.

And then you add in the personality-driven politics of President Trump, and you have now him dominating that party.

MATTHEWS: That`s right. Free trade was another thing they believed in.

Anyway, during Michael Cohen`s testimony last week, many Republicans on the Oversight Committee in the House focused fiercely on anyone who -- they attacked anybody, including Cohen, who attacked their guy, the perceived enemies of the president, of course, rather than defending the president.

Watch this. This is how they went after, these guys.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I want everyone in this room to think about this. The first announced witness for the 116th Congress is a guy who is going to prison in two months for lying to Congress.

Michael Cohen, fraudster, cheat, convicted felon, and in two months a federal inmate.

REP. MARK GREEN (R), TENNESSEE: He`s going to prison for lying to Congress, and he`s the star witness to Congress.

REP. JODY HICE (R), GEORGIA: There is an agenda for all this happening here today. And I believe, frankly, that that`s to bring the president down, to impugn the president.

REP. PAUL GOSAR (R), ARIZONA: You`re a pathological -- pathological liar.

REP. MARK MEADOWS (R), NORTH CAROLINA: It`s just one more example, Mr. Cohen, of you skirting the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, he doesn`t like those guys as a group, with their sort of look of the rMDNM_MBA or -- MBA types. They don`t like anybody who criticizes the president.

But do you think they like the president, or what?

ROB REINER, DIRECTOR/ACTIVIST: No I don`t think they like him.

And there`s another big -- couple of really big differences Costa was mentioning. This is -- if you remember -- everybody compares this to Watergate. They always do that.

But Watergate, when Nixon won in `72, there was a Democratically-controlled Congress. And there was the indication that a crime was committed, a break-in to the DNC. Two years of investigating by Democrats exposed all of that criminality.

Trump comes to office with a Republican majority, who protects him. He has that, plus state-run media...

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REINER: ... and FOX News, which completely keeps driving home the idea that Trump is OK, that everything`s OK.

Right now, you have a Democratically-controlled House, not Senate, but House. With that Democratically-controlled House, you are now for the first time going to be investigating the president. But you have got headwinds, because you still have that state-run TV.

MATTHEWS: Well, let`s talk about that, because back in those days -- you and I are roughly the same age. I think I`m a bit older than you.

But talk about...

REINER: Yes, a little bit.

MATTHEWS: A little bit

Let`s talk about this because, back in Watergate days, `73, `74, the Republicans who voted for Nixon -- almost half the country did -- more than half the country -- he won a majority -- were watching Cronkite every night.

They were watching a middle-of-the-road -- he may have been a liberal in his private life, but he`s basically straight reporter. And they were hearing that straight news on Watergate every night.

REINER: That`s right.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: And from Eric Sevareid.

REINER: And they were also watching on television.

MATTHEWS: Not Hannity.

REINER: Exactly.

And they were watching on television this thing unfold. The American public will see all of this unfold. And when you talk about 81 inquiries that Jerry Nadler is making, it`s not a fishing expert -- expedition.

It`s 81 because there`s that much criminality. I mean, they`re looking at a lot of criminality.

MATTHEWS: Yes.

REINER: So that`s going to be laid out. Right now, you got 64 percent of America thinking that Trump has committed a crime.

And that`s going to be 100 percent by the time they`re finished. They may not all accept it, because you`re still going to have the state-run media.

But, Chris...

MATTHEWS: Another analysis question for you, Robert.

Let me ask you about the Senate, because the House is basically in line with the president. We see that, representing the people at home, nine out of 10. But the senators have broken ranks here. They have broken the phalanx.

You have got four Republicans, at least -- maybe up to 10 -- who are going to vote with the rejection of the president`s declaration of a national emergency.

That`s a real shot around the world. Everybody in the world`s going to know that, if the U.S. Senate breaks with the president on his claim that we`re facing a national emergency. How do you explain the difference between the House and the Senate?

COSTA: It`s a quiet ideological rebellion right now in the U.S. Senate over emergency powers.

This is not some national outcry about President Trump overstepping his executive boundaries. And it reminds me -- going back to Watergate, it took until the summer of 1974 for many Republican senators to out -- break -- to out-and-out break with President Nixon.

A lot of Republican senators -- I was at the Capitol today -- told me they probably are going to stick with President Trump, maybe break with him here there on something like a national emergency, for the time being, through 2020, unless there`s some kind of evidence that comes out from the Mueller report, a smoking gun, they say, where they really have to move away from him.

MATTHEWS: Well, Nixon called George Wallace, the guy who split the vote with him in `68, basically helped him get elected. He called him, can you help me with these Southern senators? And Wallace said no.

REINER: Yes.

Well, you`re going to see -- I mean, an impeachment process takes a couple of years. So there`s no advantage to impeaching at this point, because you`re just going to run up to the 2020 election.

And those -- those Republican -- there`s -- smoking gun? What smoking gun? What are they going to say? There`s a phone call with President Trump on the phone with Putin saying, hey, listen, elect me president, I will lift the sanctions?

There`s no smoking gun.

MATTHEWS: So what happens here? Give me a prediction for this year.

REINER: Here`s what happens.

You -- there`s going to be a lot of people with a lot of investigations. A lot is going to come out. The American public is going to hear it. We`re going to go into 2020. He`s going to lose in 2020, because you can`t win with just the base.

If you want to add in Schultz, I don`t think he`s going to do that much damage. But let`s see. You can`t win with just the base. He loses. And then the Southern District of New York comes in, and he`s going to be indicted. He`s going to be indicted.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: You`re the best Hollywood Democratic activist I know, so you`re always smart.

REINER: Well, thank you.

MATTHEWS: You are. You`re always smart.

REINER: Mark my words.

MATTHEWS: Hillary`s not running.

REINER: No.

MATTHEWS: Bloomberg is not running.

REINER: No.

MATTHEWS: Two moderates aren`t running. Does that help Biden if he runs?

REINER: I think it does. I think it does.

And, to me, he`s the guy. I mean, what I like about Joe Biden is, if he gets the nomination, he`s going to win. And if he wins, he puts America right back on the world stage, and our credibility comes back very quickly.

MATTHEWS: So he`s good in two arenas, the general election and being president. How good is in the arena of the Democratic primary fight?

REINER: Tough. It`s going to be tough. It`s going to be very tough fight.

And I think, you know, nobody`s going to drop out right away, but I would love to see him with like a Kamala Harris on the ticket or Amy Klobuchar. He`s got to have a woman. You have to have a woman on the ticket.

MATTHEWS: That`s a hell of a ticket, either one of them.

COSTA: Remember the...

MATTHEWS: Go ahead. Who`s talking? Go ahead, Robert.

COSTA: Remember that line from 2004, date Dean, marry Kerry?

Democrats may have a similar choice in 2020. Do they want to go with a liberal who`s a favorite in the primary, or are they going to go with the more electable candidate, someone who`s more toward the center?

MATTHEWS: I know a Howard Dean guy. He`s right near me right now.

(LAUGHTER)

MATTHEWS: Thank you, Robert Costa. Thank you, Rob Reiner.

Up next: Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg, as I said, announced today they`re not running in 2020. So who will have the best chance? Who do the Democrats think is their best chance to be Trump generally?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Two big names announced today they`re not running for president next year, Hillary Clinton and Michael Bloomberg.

In announcing his decision today, Bloomberg issued a warning to Democrats. He wrote: "It`s essential that we nominate a Democrat who will be in the strongest position to defeat Donald Trump and bring our country back together. We cannot allow the primary process to drag the party to an extreme that would diminish our chances in the general election."

Right now, a dozen Democrats are in the race. Yesterday, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper became the latest to join what is expected to be the largest Democratic field ever.

With so much at stake, the candidates now begin the task of convincing voters that they can win the left-wing-leaning primaries, of course, like Iowa, and the more centrist general election coming in November next year.

For more, I`m joined by Christina Bellantoni, professor of journalism at USC Annenberg and former assistant managing editor of "The Los Angeles Times." Bob Shrum, of course, is a longtime Democratic strategist and director of the Center for the Political Future at USC.

I`m going to start with you, Christina.

Most people in conversation now think about the election, do we want to go with an ideologue, or are we going to go with somebody could have a better chance of winning?

Are those -- is that a legitimate distinction? An ideologue is, of course, Senator Sanders, is a socialist, on -- happy to be on the left, strong core. Is he a better bet in the party than somebody who`s a moderate and might appeal to those people who`ve been questioning whether they go back to Trump a second time?

CHRISTINA BELLANTONI, USC ANNENBERG: I mean, it`s the heart vs. mind, right?

This is the big debate really that Democrats have that I think Republicans just don`t have the same debate. And when you see...

MATTHEWS: They don`t have a heart or they don`t have a mind? Just kidding.

BELLANTONI: They -- you have that huge field of candidates with every type of person from every type of place.

Is there really a too liberal in that? You know that no matter who the candidate is, the president is going to paint them as a socialist, gun- hating, all those things.

MATTHEWS: Well, he won`t have to do it in one case.

BELLANTONI: Right.

MATTHEWS: In one case, he won`t have to do it, because Bernie will throw it right back at him. He says, I`m a socialist and you`re a capitalist bad guy.

BELLANTONI: It could be, sure.

But no matter who it is. So, in that sense, the fighting over who`s a little bit more left or who`s a little bit more moderate, I don`t really think that`s the debate people are having. I think that Democrats are shell-shocked and terrified that Trump will win reelection.

MATTHEWS: You and I have been through two cases where a party went to its heart, Goldwater. In your heart, you know it`s right, he`s right, and, of course, McGovern.

We went through that. I was at the Democratic Convention in `72 as a volunteer for the DNC, and people were giddy with happiness. It wasn`t like they were committing suicide. They loved picking McGovern.

BOB SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: So was I. I was McGovern`s speechwriter, so but I couldn`t be anything but happy.

MATTHEWS: Then you know.

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: Look, that was probably an unwinnable election no matter who the Democrats nominated, after the Eagleton debacle. When McGovern picked somebody who was a flawed vice presidential candidate, he was done.

MATTHEWS: Would a moderate have done better, like Muskie? Would he have done better?

SHRUM: Not -- he wouldn`t have won the election. And I think it`s to McGovern`s credit that he stood up against the Vietnam War, told the truth about Watergate.

I think there`s a bit of a parlor game going on here about, are we going to pick someone on the left, are we going to pick someone who`s going to win? Democrats are very pragmatic in these primaries, if you look back in history.

I think that, overwhelmingly, people are going to say, who has the best chance to beat Trump?

MATTHEWS: Polls show they want that to be the choice, the winner. They want a winner.

SHRUM: They want to beat Trump, number one.

Number two, someone like Biden is feared tremendously by the Trump people in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, and Michigan.

MATTHEWS: If he gets there.

SHRUM: If he gets there

But, once again, it goes back to the nature of the electorate. It goes back to what Rob Reiner was saying or -- in your last segment, you guys were talking about this. In 2004, it was date Dean, marry Kerry. People thought Kerry had a chance to win. They didn`t think Dean had a chance to win.

MATTHEWS: Yes. I agree with that.

SHRUM: And that was Iowa and then New Hampshire.

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Anyway, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is ruling out another run for president. I thought she already did.

But she did so in an interview recently, in fact, today, with News 12`s Tara Rosenblum in New York. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I`m not running, but I`m going to keep working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.

I want to be sure that people understand I`m going to keep speaking out. I`m not going anywhere. What`s at stake in our country, the kinds of things that are happening right now are deeply troubling to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s not the first time Secretary Clinton has said she`s not interested. This time -- but this time appears to be definitive.

President Trump couldn`t resist, of course, tweeting: "Crooked Hillary Clinton confirms she will not run in 2020, rules out a third bid for White House. Aww, shucks. Does that mean I don`t -- won`t get to run against her again? She will be sorely missed."

Sarcastic guy, isn`t he?

President Trump has made a habit of going after secretary of state. Let`s watch him. He can`t get off it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Hillary is the one who broke the law over and over and over again. We can be sure that what is in those e-mails is absolutely devastating.

If Hillary Clinton were to be elected, it would create an unprecedented and protracted constitutional crisis.

Oh, I hope Hillary -- is she going to run? I hope -- Hillary, please run again.

Oh, these resisters. Resist. Hillary resisted. And you know what happened? You lost the election in a landslide.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: But Hillary Clinton had the last word, for now, when she tweeted this graphic from the film "Mean Girls" with the character asking, "Why are you so obsessed with me?"

And my question is, remember during the debate, when Trump, like this gorilla, leaned over the back of her and hovered over the back of her? He`s still hovering over Hillary Clinton.

BELLANTONI: Sure. Well, he does it because it works. This is about the base, the base, the base, the base, the base.

And when you talk to voters that are still with Trump, and that feeling of, whether it`s 38 to 42 percent...

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Well, it`s 88 percent of the Republican Party.

BELLANTONI: Right, exactly.

Then they want to say the same thing. They`re still talking about the e- mails. They are still talking about Bill and what he did, or -- they want to talk about Whitewater even. You see this happening on the Internet.

And no matter what the candidate ends up being, or who the candidate ends up being in 2020, of course he`s going to talk about Hillary Clinton. He will tie that person to Hillary Clinton. He will research all of it.

MATTHEWS: The area around Philadelphia suburbs has seemed to defied all of these elections. Biden right now, going in -- I don`t know what`s going to happen in the next several months, Biden going in, going in, Amy Klobuchar, that kind of a ticket would swim to victory around 75 percent in the `burbs around Philadelphia. You know they decide everything.

Bob, I`ve got to go.

SHRUM: Go.

MATTHEWS: Christina Bellantoni --

(CROSSTALK)

SHRUM: Go!

MATTHEWS: What was your last thought?

SHRUM: I was going to say, look, Trump can`t win with 42 percent, unless he has a third party candidate who inadvertently benefits him. It`s impossible to draw on inside straits a second time.

MATTHEWS: I don`t know nothing. Sergeant Schultz, listen up.

Anyway, Christina Bellantoni --

BELLANTONI: Three sixty-four days from now, California primary.

MATTHEWS: I know. By the way, you can start voting in California like now, about a month ago, next year.

Thank you, Christina Bellantoni and Bob Shrum.

Up next, Michael Cohen`s testimony has put new focus on President Trump`s history with the race issue, don`t you think, after listening to that last week?

HARDBALL back in a minute.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

Last week, when the president`s fixer, Michael Cohen, testified before the Congress, he gave us a scathing description of his former boss. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist, he is a con man, and he is a cheat. The country has seen Mr. Trump court white supremacists and bigots. You have heard him call poorer countries (EXPLETIVE DELETED) holes. His private, in private, he is even worse.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Trump supporters defended him against Cohen`s allegations, but the president`s critics have pointed -- his critics have pointed to his own past statements, those by the president himself, as evidence.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Trump comes along and says, birth certificate, he gives a birth certificate, whether or not that was a real certificate, because a lot of people question it. I certainly question it.

Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

You know what -- oh, look at my African-American over here. Look at him.

You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: That`s about Charlottesville.

Anyway, but, yesterday, Trump got a boost of support from the highest ranking African-American in his administration. We`re going to hear another view on that one, coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: Welcome pack to HARDBALL.

Following last week`s testimony by President Trump`s fixer, describing the president as a racist, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson is defending the president. Let`s listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BEN CARSON, HUD SECRETARY: I think Cohen is trying to ingratiate himself to the people who hate Trump. And he figures if he says these kinds of things that that will accomplish that. I have never seen anything even remotely would remind me of racist. And believe me, I recognize a racist when I see them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, Carson, of course, is the lone African-American in the president`s cabinet. President Trump has been called out for the lack of diversity, of course, in his administration. There`s the picture. It`s kind of monochromatic, isn`t it?

I`m joined right now by Omarosa Manigault Newman, a former senior official in the Trump White House.

You`ve been listening to a lot of this conversation and I think there are degrees of bigotry. I think everybody knows there are people that are really good and really bad and people in the middle. What is Trump?

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE: Well, Chris, I don`t think there`s a question of whether he`s a bigot or racist, the question is how is it impacting his ability to fulfill the duties of the presidency. I mean, he`s proven time and time again that he does not treat people who do not look like him the same.

MATTHEWS: What`s that, from his old neighborhood? Where do you think it comes from?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: I went back and looked and there was a man in his organization, the president of Trump casino, John McDonnell, back in 1991 who said Donald Trump said racial things, didn`t want African-American dealers dealing in the casino or African-American accountants.

I went way back. It must be something that he picked up during his business times and his dealings in New York, but it is not acceptable while he sits in the Oval Office.

MATTHEWS: Do you think it was currying favor with people who are bigots? Because I think that`s the game he plays a lot. You know, this whole thing about President Obama not being American born, did he ever really think that? Where did he get that idea from?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: You know, he picks up on these conspiracy theories and he runs with them. And that one, he wouldn`t release that particular one until we forced him to do so during the campaign when he made that full announcement.

MATTHEWS: What did you say to him? How did you get him to say, OK, he`s American like I am, huh?

(CROSSTALK)

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: We told him it was unacceptable.

I personally had a conversation and said not only was it false but it was unacceptable to continue to attack this president who led this country so well, but he had no respect for Obama and is continuing to try to dismantle Barack Obama`s legacy currently.

MATTHEWS: Is that because President Obama is really smart and well educated and a good guy and that offends him that he`s so good? What does that bother him? Was it what President Obama said at the press dinner that time, that black tie dinner, he put him down?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: It was the White House Correspondents Dinner. I was there. I remember the moment when he was joking and making fun of Donald Trump, and that was the moment he decided to run for president and he would get back at Barack Obama.

MATTHEWS: Well, during Michael Cohen`s hearing last week, Republican Congressman Mark Meadows brought in Lynne Patton, a former Trump employee who`s now an official at HUD to push back against Cohen`s claims of racism. Meadows indicated that Cohen`s accusation was wrong because Ms. Patton disagreed with him.

It led to the exchange, this exchange between Democratic Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley and Michael Cohen himself. Let`s watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Would you agree that someone could deny rental units to African-Americans, lead the birther movement, refer to the Diaspora as (EXPLETIVE DELETED) countries and refer to white supremacists as fine people, have a black friend and still be racist?

COHEN: Yes.

PRESSLEY: I agree.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Let me ask you about who`s the president got to worry about. I mean, 80-some questions have come out from the House Judiciary Committee. These people are going to be called in for all kinds of documents and eventually be hauled in personally and subpoenaed. Who do you think Trump fears most to be brought in?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: One name, Rhona Graff. She`s personal secretary. She knows everyone. She knows the role they play. She knows who said what, when. She set up the meetings.

If she is called to testify, that will be the end of Donald Trump.

MATTHEWS: Should he worry about her? Is she safe for him? Will she keep secrets?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: I wouldn`t be surprised if she pleads the Fifth. It wouldn`t surprise me at all, because she`s been fiercely loyal to the president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: What do you think he worries about when he goes to bed at night? What`s in his soul that scares him even though he won`t show it?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: I think that he`s afraid of failure and he knows that once he`s impeached, that that will be the most significant sign that he is truly a failure and that he has been running the biggest, greatest and perpetuating the greatest fraud on the American people because he was not able, capable or prepared to be president of the United States.

MATTHEWS: What about that love serenade he did on the weekend with the conservatives. We all love each other. He`s not a loving -- he`s not a lover. What`s all this love and love and love? What is --

(CROSSTALK)

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: This is a man that totally lacks empathy. He has no ability to connect with people. I don`t know what that was. Donald Trump was completely unhinged in his two and a half tirade that he went on and on.

MATTHEWS: What did you make of that? It was like Howard Beale, exponential Howard Beale. Everything on his mind, he used the B.S. word. He`s president, does he remember that?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: He wasn`t behaving very presidential. He continues to lower and lower the quality and standards of the White House and that office every single time he goes on something -- these bizarre rants like he did.

But what`s important is what`s going to happen now. What happens after these testimonies, what happens when Mueller releases his report?

MATTHEWS: This is a tricky question because I`m not a psychiatrist. I`m not a psychologist. Is Trump a guy who basically has a problem with people of color? Or he just knows he can get votes by playing that card?

MANIGAULT NEWMAN: He has a problem with people of color. I mean, there were years that I denied that because I was in his orbit but he exploits them.

I mean, when you look at what they did with Lynne Patton, I mean, they gave her a title of vice president even those she was an administrative assistant because he knew he had a problem with diversity in the administration. So, she`s been used prior by this administration --

(CROSSTALK)

MATTHEWS: Omarosa Manigault Newman, you are a great guest to have on this program. This show lights up when you appear. Thank you so much.

Up next, a dramatic medical milestone that`s been a long time coming and a really good thing coming. We`ll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MATTHEWS: To those who hold faith in human science, a new sign of hope now shines across the horizon. For the second time in history, a patient has been cleared of the HIV virus after a stem cell transplant. It`s a milestone that offers the best hope yet for the 40 million people living with HIV worldwide and may lead the way to one day possibly ending the AIDS epidemic.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOM BROKAW, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: The lifestyle of some male homosexuals has triggered an epidemic of a rare form of cancer.

REPORTER: A mysterious newly discovered disease, which affects mostly homosexual men, but has also been found in heterosexual men and women.

BROKAW: Blood transfusions may help spread AIDS. The AIDS virus may be carried by up to a million Americans.

President Reagan called the deadly disease public health enemy number one. He`s coming to this issue late, and his critics say that his commitment is incomplete.

REPORTER: AIDS, a disease undetected 14 years ago is now the leading cause of death among young adults.

BRIAN WILLIAMS, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Twenty-five years ago today, the Centers for Disease Control issued a report on a new mystery illness. Since that day, the virus has infected 65 million people and killed 25 million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEWS: Well, today`s development is a tribute to the promise of human science and those who give their sweat and tears to find cures. Thank God we have these researchers among us.

And that`s HARDBALL for now.

"ALL IN WITH CHRIS HAYES" starts right now.

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED. END